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Accent tips: How to speak with a Neutral English Accent

Have you wanted to speak in Neutral English, but didn't know how to?

Accent Reduction

Here is your answer! 

6 EASY STEPS  TO IMPROVING YOUR ACCENT, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE FROM!

Our accent usually is determined by our cultural and linguistic background. If you are having difficulties in being understood by a someone due to your accent, here are some things that you can do right now.

Every variety of language consists of  a limited number of all possible sounds. This is known as the speech sound system. As a child, your speech sound system becomes programmed into your head, and as you grow older, it becomes more difficult to shift away from this program of speech sounds.

However this is not to suggest that it is impossible to change your speech sound system as an adult. Necessary motivation, training and sufficient practice and clarity of speech sounds are essential in training someone’s speech sound system.

Accent work will be a lot easier if you have already acquired a basic level of grammar in English.

6 STEPS you can take right now  :

1) Identify which part of your speech needs improvement: Speech can sound different due to various reasons. These include:

  • Difference in consonant sounds. Eg: The way you say /h/, might be different to the way another says /h/. Or think of other common consonants that you make errors on, /th/.
  • Difference in vowel sounds: Vowels are made orally, and each language has different sets of vowels, which is what makes languages so different on the ears. Vowels also determine the length of words, as there are short and long vowels. eg: /e: ship/ and /eee : sheep/
  • Rate/Intonation/Melody of speech:  Many people speak fast as their natural speaking style, regardless of the language they are speaking. The problem is, clear, assertive speech will never be achieved at a fast rate. People in high positions and world leaders tend to speak at an average rate if not slower, to make an emphasis when they speak.

2) New speaking posture. : Standard Neutral Accent.  Changing one’s way of pronouncing will also mean changing the way you habitually hold your mouth. I teach the Standard Neutral English method, which adopts an open, UP-DOWN posture. Click here to view a video I did on SNE .

3)Specific Consonants to focus on: Consonants impact greater on intelligibility than vowels do. Speakers can often improve their enunciation markedly by remembering to articulate the last sounds of words, which are often consonants. Sounds to focus on will include words that end with the following STOP sounds : /b, p, k, g, t , d/. eg: /Mob, mop, pick, pig, brat, bred/ Ensure that the differences between last sounds are clearly articulated.

4) Vowels: The most important part of vowels are their length. How long or short a vowel is, changes the meaning of words. Eg: /Ship, sheep, bid, bead/. Click here to download practice Vowel sounds

5)Nasal sounds:  In English, the only nasal sounds are : /m, n, ng/. The vowel sounds are NOT nasal. If you want to check if you are sounding nasal, when you are not meant to, you can do a nose pinch test. Simply say , ” ahhhh”, and in the midst of saying the sound pinch your nose, to stop the airflow. If you hear a change in quality of your vowel sound, that means you have a nasal overlay on your speech. This means, your speech sounds overly sharp or, ” like you are talking through your nose “. Nasal speech could be due to i) Cleft palate ii) Habitual speech pattern. If you are unsure, just contact me for an opinion:)

6)Speech Melody : This means, speaking the English language using its own rhythm, and pitch. This means learning how to speak using the right : Pitch, loudness, length of sound. English is not a tonal language, meaning, “No”, said in all different tones will still mean, “NO”. In South American and Asian languages, change of tone indicates change of meaning of the word. The easiest way to learn tone in the English Language is to listen to a native English speaker and paying attention to their intonation!

If you would like some more in depth accent tips, download my e-book for a list of things you can do straightaway!

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